The redolent aromas of a medley of unique culinary syntheses permeate the cleverly mismatched furnishings of Vibe's lively lounge. After perusing the menu, ease into an evening as smooth and enjoyable as a hang-glide session with Fabio by romping through the tilapia ceviche, a piquant citric noshable served with tortilla chips ($9.50). Works by local artists gaze watchfully from the walls as diners tear into bacon, apple, and blue cheese pizza ($9) while basking in the glow of one of the many vibrant orange sofas or the lounge's outdoor seating. Meatloaf sliders, crowned with fried onion and jalapeno mayonnaise ($2.50 each), serve up a new twist on a traditional dish akin to Emeril's famous chicken-noodle schnapps. Vibe's bar pours mirth into the glasses of guests who enjoy colorful environs framed by hanging curtains and eccentric lighting, which host a variety of live musical performances and well-known artists 3–4 times a week and other events.
The Chicago Botanic Garden Wine Festival invites oenophiles, aficionados, and amateur wine-intakers to the lush, flowery foliage of the Chicago Botanic Garden for a weekend of wine tasting. More than 200 wines will be available for swirling, sniffing, and shipping at this year's festival, with a line-up of speakers and musicians providing enlightenment and entertainment for festival attendees. Local restaurants, including Abigail's American Bistro, Caoba Mexican Bar & Grill, and Bluegrass, will be on-site to sell gastronomic goodies, with an array of vendors showcasing everything from cookware to vacation services.
Established in 1990, the bar and grill formerly known as Pete's Pizza took on its new nommé de cuisine in 2008 after extending the menu to encompass burgers, sandwiches, pasta, and Greek fare from chefs Spiro Theodoropoulos and John Patouhas. The hugely varied pub fare weighs down tables in the expansive, relaxed dining room. In the adjoining bar, raucous games of darts, pool, and sudoku wait to break out. During warmer weather, diners take in fresh air on the stone patio that also provides the ideal amount of give for toe-tapping to the sporadically scheduled live music.
At Fatman Sports Lounge & Lanes, bowlers hurl orbs down 12 automatically scored lanes. Illustrations of electrified neon balls and pins line the alley's walls, complementing the beat-heavy tunes and pulsing lights of nightly cosmic bowling. An arcade challenges guests with pinball machines, racing games, and a claw machine that beckons with the promise of winning a stuffed toy or permission to cheat at one round of bowling.
The restaurant proves far more ambitious than the standard bowling-alley snack bar, dishing out thick, slow-simmered chili, a score of piled-high sandwiches, broasted chicken, and house-made pizza. Bartenders spin cocktails that tend toward the elaborate, potent, and sweet, with a dozen different variations on a long island iced tea alone.
At Downing's, diners can gobble up a Guinness beer brat, savor Corona-battered cod, or bite into a maple-bacon burger made with beer-infused sirloin. Inventive uses for alcohol aren't the only way the chefs add creative spins to their traditional Irish eats and handheld pub dishes. For instance, you can order a burger topped with fresh mozzarella, pesto, and fresh tomatoes?all the makings of a caprese salad. Downing's takes burgers so seriously that an entire section of the menu is labeled "Not Burgers." It features italian-beef sandwiches and chimichurri beef tacos. Diners can also partake of a deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which oozes with warm strawberry jelly between slices of bread dusted with powdered sugar.
Between bites of hearty pub food washed down with beer and spirits, pool players can start their own leagues at Downing's. The pub?which offers alfresco seating in warmer months?also keeps things hopping with weekly musical performances, five flat-screen TVs, and parties to celebrate such holidays as Halloween, Saint Patrick's Day, and Franklin Pierce Fan Club Day.
Part restaurant and part concert hall, Austin's Saloon & Eatery houses both a sit-down dining room and a separate main stage showcasing local and national acts throughout the week. The restaurant's menu blends barbecue and inventive American fare with starters such as chicken wings ($7.95) and golden-fried beer-dough nuggets ($5.50) made to mimic the exact shape and alcohol content of most asteroids. Wrap hands and mouths around one of six burgers ($8.50+) or don a bib and dive into a barbecue combo platter ($17.95) pairing chicken and a half-slab of ribs, both cooked on a wood roaster.